Research from the University of Sydney suggests that we are waiting too long to prepare for jet lag

Scientists from the University of Sydney conducted a study into the effects of jet lag, looking at what can be done to lessen the impact of the condition.

The research, which began in early 2018, focused on non-pharmacological ways to counter jet lag. They concluded that, without medication, effectively avoiding jet lag can require weeks of preparation.[1]

Steve Simpson, academic director of the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, says that planning is where most travellers fall short. We need to start altering our body clocks for days or even weeks before boarding the flight.

“The way you feel, the way you function – mentally through to bowel movements – is all ultimately controlled by your body clock,” said Simpson.

“What you can do is make sure you’re pushing as quickly as you can to the destination time zone and getting the timing of things right.”[2]

However, public health researcher Dr Sun Bin notes that other factors are equally as important as planning when it comes to jet lag, such as light, alcohol and hydration.

“Basically, jet lag is a mismatch between your body clock and the time at your destination.”[3]

What is jet lag?

Jet lag occurs when your usual sleep routine is disturbed after a long flight. You may feel extremely tired during the day, or wide awake in the middle of the night, or both. Symptoms can last for several days as your body gets used to its new time zone.[4]

Common symptoms of jet lag can include:

Difficulty getting to sleep at night and waking up in the morning

Finding it hard to stay awake throughout the day

Severe tiredness and exhaustion

Difficulty concentrating

Poor memory

Low sleep quality[5]

How do you minimise jet lag?

Beginning your preparations early is an important part of lessening the effects of jet lag. By altering your sleep schedule by 15 minutes or so every day for a few weeks before travelling, you can shift seamlessly into a new time zone.

But there are other factors involved in the regulation of your circadian rhythm. These include eating according to the meal times of your destination, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, staying hydrated and getting plenty of natural light exposure the morning after arriving at your destination.[6]

Your destination can also play a part in the severity of your jet lag. Of course, the further you travel the greater the time difference, and therefore the greater the jet lag. But research has also found the travelling from west to east results in worse jet lag than travelling east to west.[7]

Medication can help to reduce the impact of jet lag

Medication like Circadin can be used to regain control of your sleep-wake cycle by regulating your body’s release of melatonin — your natural sleep hormone.

The effectiveness of Circadin has been shown through rigorous testing, revealing its usefulness in improving sleep quality and helping patients sleep normally when compared to a placebo drug.[8]

Circadin is an effective way to regulate your sleep-wake cycle, and is available from Express Pharmacy. Click here to discover more or get in touch with one of our expert pharmacists today. Call 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] Bin, YS., Postnova, S., Cistulli, PA. What works for jetlag? A systematic review of non-pharmacological interventions. Sleep Med Rev. 2018.

[2] Attard, M., Extel CV. Long flight ahead? Prepare weeks in advance to avoid jet lag, scientists say. ABC News. 2018.

[3] Bin et al. 2018.

[4] NHS UK. Jet lag. 2017.

[5] National Sleep Foundation. Jet Lag and Sleep. 2018.

[6] Kalia, A. Five ways to minimise jet lag. The Guardian. 2019.

[7] Klein, J. Why Jet Lag Can Feel Worse When You Travel From West to East. The New York Times. 2016

[8] European Medicines Agency. Circadin. 2007.